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Chicago Bulls: Calm Offseason, Big Splash in Opener

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COMMENTARY | Derrick Rose has been the anticipatory story of the offseason for the Chicago Bulls. Fans are eagerly awaiting his return in the 2013-14 season -- even more so since they're opening up against the 2012-13 NBA champion Miami Heat.

But that's not all that's happened in Bulls camp.

Granted, it wasn't a big offseason with high-profile signings and draft picks. If anything, they stayed under the radar in draft. With the 20th pick, it's not exactly that hard, though.

The Bulls used their first pick on Tony Snell from New Mexico. Snell had a good year with the Lobos, but he was definitely a surprise pick with Tim Hardaway, Jr. still available in the draft. Hardaway went to the New York Knicks as the 24th pick and is already injured with a bruised wrist. In other words, surprises aren't always bad.

Snell comes in to fill the Kyle Korver roll. Heavy defense, perimeter shooting and one of the best pull-up jumpers in the NCAA at 47-percent accuracy. Snell averaged 9.2 points per game and 42 percent from the field while always improving behind the arc. With Marco Belinelli signing with the San Antonio Spurs and Nate Robinson headed to the Denver Nuggets, Snell can easily slide into those offensive responsibilities.

Their second draft pick was another forward, Erik Murphy at 49th overall. Even at 6 feet 10 inches, he wasn't the big man people were hoping the Bulls would take. Joakim Noah needs a younger backup than Nazr Mohammed. Murphy, who is the same height as Mohammed, may be who their bringing into the center slot. The Bulls were definitely targeting offensive weapons in the draft. He averaged 12.2 points per game, 51 percent from the floor -- one of the best in the SEC -- and shot 45 percent from 3-point range in his final season at the University of Florida. Tom Thibodeau has made it very clear the offense has taken priority this offseason.

If you need more evidence, the Bulls waived Rip Hamilton in the offseason. This move was expected. Hamilton had been no more than a warm body on the bench in the 2011-12 season with injuries and wasn't exactly a producer in the 2012-13 season. Jimmy Butler is expected to take his place on the starting roster opposite Rose.

And there's the biggest story of the offseason. The return of Rose as starting point guard for the Bulls. And what better way to introduce a championship-caliber squad than against the defending back-to-back champions Miami Heat.

This will be the real test of Rose's health and playing ability. A season opener against a team that kept them from an NBA Finals berth this season. Rose also has to prove to the fans he's back and ready to lead this team to another United Center championship banner -- their first since the Michael Jordan era.

Bulls fans have a lot to look forward to in Miami on October 29, but I just hope the season lives up to the hype.

Tim Bearden has covered professional sports in Chicago since 2010. He's extensively covered the Chicago Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks, Cubs and White Sox. He graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in journalism and has written sports for Buzz Magazine, the Chicagoist and his own blog FantasyFreakout.

You can also follow Tim ( @tdbearden) on Twitter.

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